Monday, January 12, 2009

SoftFlex - Flexible Bead Stringing Wire


We've been carrying the SoftFlex line of bead stringing wire - flexible beading wire - the company calls it - for some time. Recently - they've added some new products, so I thought it might be worth it to run down the list for a quick overview, in case you are getting confused, or you are just starting out, and are completely bewildered.

Flexible Beading Wire - in general - is a multistrand metal cable, usually with a thin, flexible, protective outer shell, that stops discolouration and protects the wire. One of the early products of this type was called "Tiger Tail" - and some people still generically use the term to describe all flexible beading wire. I've especially noticed this in some of the foreign beading magazines.

Generally, you match the weight of the beading wire to the weight of the beads and the size of the bead holes. Use Heavy for stone beads, medium for most projects, Very Fine for pearls, etc.

Most of these are stiff enough that a needle is not required for stringing - although the very fine Softtouch certainly benefits from it!

Econoflex

Econoflex is the "entry level" product - which is marketing speak for "cheap and cheerful." Great for beginners who are still trying to get their head around it all, or other crafts, where you might want a lot of it (for, I don't know, covering a lampshade?) or for those on a tight budget. It comes in Very Fine, Fine, and Medium in the "natural" steel colour, and also in colours in the medium. The colours are quite nice and you could do some interesting things with contrasting or matching the colours to the beads. We've all tried it out here, and the only downside we've noticed is that it can kink if you put a sharp bend in it - so when stringing, try not to do that - otherwise, you may have a distinct bend in a lightweight necklace.

SoftTouch

This is a superiour wire in drape and bendability. Available in Very Fine, Fine, Medium and Heavy in the natural grey steel colour, it also is available in Black and White in the Very Fine. I like the very fine for projects where I may be putting multiple strands through a single bead.

Extreme 925 Flex Wire

I personally love this product - the super shininess of this flexible Sterling Silver beading wire enhances the sparkle of transparent beads, and in the limited places where it may show - such as where it loops through a clasp, just adds a more polished look to the finished piece. This is available in three thicknesses - Fine, Medium and Heavy.

Metallics Wire

Coloured to resemble Copper or Antique Brass, this wire works well with the copper or brass themed pieces - and looks great in designs that leave some of the wire exposed, i.e. floating or illusion necklaces or "Tin Cup" style necklaces (named for the movie that popularized them).


and finally, last but not least,

Soft Flex Wire

This is SoftFlex's original product, and a great all-around product. A step up from the Econoflex, and less likely to kink if you bend it sharply (although, if you double it back on itself and crush it, just about anything will kink short of cotton rope!). It also comes in three thicknesses in it's natural "steel grey" colour, and a variety of colours in the the medium.

All of these products, with the exception of the Econoflex, are made in the U.S.

Diameters

Softflex defines Very Fine, Fine, Medium and Heavy as follows.

(OK - there is a table down below - for some odd reason - blogger is leaving a huge gap in the text - hopefully - it works better for you than on my screen. Please scroll down to read.)

















































Very Fine 0.010

(inches diameter)
0.254

(mm diameter)

Suggested uses: embellishing, weaving, crocheting, stringing very small beads.

Fine 0.014 0.355

Soft materials, seed beads, fresh water pearls.

Medium 0.019 0.482

All purpose, glass, mineral, metal beads

Heavy 0.024 0.609

Abrasive materials, large stones, lampwork beads, bracelets.





Spool Sizes

Generally, we stock the these in 30 ft (9 m) spools, but in some cases, 50 ft, 100 ft, 500 ft, 1,000 ft, and 5,000 ft rolls are also available.

Securing the Wire

For the Medium weight and up, I would suggest using crimps only. For the finer weights, you can knot these flexible wires. For the Very Fine, Knotting is the way to go, as most crimp beads just aren't small enough to hold them.



If one of these products appeals to you and you don't see it on our site - let us know and we can see if we can bring it in as a special order for you. 5,000 Foot roll, anyone?

1 comment:

Katie said...

Thanks for the clarification. I am just starting out and I bought the Softflex Extreme in Fine last night, then got home and realized that it does not fit through my pearls or seed beads twice. I am hoping/assuming the very fine SoftTouch would do the trick? If you know already that it still won't work, let me know.

Thanks